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Tuesday October 22, 2013 Muschamp and Richt among coaches who would like to see targeting rule reviewed

Updated: 3:05pm, October 22

Will Muschamp

The automatic-ejection rule on targeting penalties has drawn the ire of coaches around the country.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Getting college football coaches to agree on anything is never an easy task, but the NCAA might have pulled off a minor miracle.

The majority of coaches appear to have had it with the NCAA’s new targeting rule. They are in favor of the rule’s intent – to make the game safer and penalize players for malicious hits on defenseless opponents -- but not the automatic ejection that comes each time a 15-yard targeting penalty is called.

The Gators endured their second ejection of the season on Saturday when safety Cody Riggs was called for a targeting penalty on the game’s first play. Defensive back Brian Poole was ejected in the second half of the Tennessee game for a targeting penalty.

Florida coach Will Muschamp voiced concerns about the automatic-ejection rule after Poole’s hit and did the same on Saturday when Riggs was thrown out for a hit on Missouri receiver L’Damian Washington.

“It’s a bang-bang play,’’ Muschamp said. “Again, I think the rule is good. I don’t think the rule of an ejection is right. He went down to catch the ball, so it was the correct call. I don’t disagree with the call. I disagree with kicking a kid out of the game in that situation. He wasn’t maliciously trying to hurt anybody. It was ridiculous.”

While the Gators have a bye week before facing Georgia, the targeting rule is also a hot topic in Athens this week.

Bulldogs defensive end Ray Drew was tossed out of Saturday’s loss at Vanderbilt for a hit on Commodores quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels.

Georgia coach Mark Richt, after reviewing tape of the play, spoke to SEC officials about the situation on Sunday according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“I don't think that the rule was designed for that type of play, quite frankly," Richt said of the call on Drew during his Monday press conference. “It didn't look like Ray was trying to blast the guy in any way, shape or form. I think he was trying to pull up. He certainly didn't drive through the guy or try to hit him violently in any way, shape or form.

“I don't really know for sure why they didn't allow him to play. I'm glad it happened in the first half where now he won't miss any of the game against Florida. That's the best part about it."

The same goes for Riggs. Since his ejection came in the first half against Missouri, he can play at the start of the Georgia game.

Former Gators coach Urban Meyer discussed his concern about the rule on Monday, too.

During Ohio State’s win over Iowa on Saturday, Buckeyes cornerback Bradley Roby was disqualified because of a targeting penalty.

After the play was reviewed, Roby was ejected, the first Ohio State player to suffer the consequences of a hit officials deem targeting.

“I think that the NCAA and everybody is going to want to look at that rule," Meyer said Monday. "Ohio State is very concerned about player safety. We have gone to the nth degree with adjusting practice. Any rule for the safety of players, no question we support it.

"However, that was a game-changer. To take one of your better players out of the game, that impacted that game. ... We teach and work hard at it that you play the game with the shoulder pads and play below the head. I agree 100 percent. But to have a guy ejected who played like that, obviously I'm concerned."

While Riggs is eligible to play against Georgia, he hardly worked up a sweat at Missouri.

Replays showed Riggs’ helmet did make contact with Washington’s facemask, but the contact appeared to come during the natural progression of the play as Washington caught the ball and Riggs closed in for the tackle.

“I feel bad for him,’’ teammate Trey Burton said afterward. “He made the trip, put all this time in at practice, and then the first play of the game gets thrown out. I don’t know if it was questionable or not – I’m not a referee – but it’s tough for him and tough for the defense.”

Cody Riggs

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